I was made for autumn; there’s no doubt about it. In literature, the seasons can often represent a lifespan: spring=birth, summer=youth, fall=maturity, winter=death. However, for me, that doesn’t really ring true. When I am smack dab in the middle of fall, I am transported back to my childhood in lovely, rich, golden tones of memory.
Flashes of jumping into leaves, trick or treating, wool sweaters, football games and high school kisses jump into my mind. My first kiss, my first real kiss was in the fall, on a bridge, over a river, under a full moon. How’s that for heady? He was tall, blonde and handsome. Too bad he later came out of the closet. He now owns a lovely salon in Palm Springs, but that’s beside the point.
I really, really love this time of year. I’m going to tell you why, but first, let me start with telling you why I don’t love the other seasons as much.
I don’t like spring. This is because where we live, there is no spring. We live in the most northern point of the state of Wisconsin, right on Lake Superior. I tend to get spring envy when it comes to states south of us. We get two weeks of mud in May. That’s it.
(This is Emily and our friend Linda. It was Easter Sunday. Seriously.)
My friend Steve Dunker wrote a short poem which I think captures the magic and beauty of our two weeks of mud.
SPRING – Steve Dunker
Even in April we still have banks of dirty snow on the ground, or if by some miracle the dirty piles of snow have melted, we are left with cold, cloudy, rainy days and some brown grass for color. During these few weeks, the locals are absolutely insane because they’ve just finished their 6 month sentence of winter. They have a look of desperation about them, particularly around the eyes, along with very pasty, if not translucent skin. If I can’t get out of Bayfield County for a few days during March or April, then I try really hard to stay very busy, in order to keep from stabbing my face with a fork repeatedly. I find directing a play does the trick. (Fun Fact, the “low” tourist season time in Bayfield is during March and April and now you know why. One might bump into a dangerous, crazed local while trying to enjoy the lovely, brown terrain.) So much for spring.
Summer is way too hot for me, as I am a pretty, pretty princess who doesn’t like to sweat. I would normally jump in a lake to cool off, but Superior will maybe get up to 60 degrees in the summer, and as I am a pretty, pretty princess, there will be none of that. I have friends who love summer. They do things like deliberately get on a boat, sail to one of the Apostle Islands with their families, and camp for at least a week. Are you freaking kidding me? There is so much wrong with that, I can’t even begin to diagram it out, but for the sake of humor, I will try. I guess it comes down to 3 words: Sailing, Camping, Beach.
1)Sailing. Not for me. Sure, the boats are pretty when they’re out in the bay and the tourists who own sailboats tend to drop major cash in Bayfield’s lap, but I get seasick something fierce. Casually lollygagging around the Apostles in a boat for a day or two might actually make me more interested in swimming in Lake Superior. Frankly, I don’t want to put that much trust in the wind. One time, this thing called “wind” put a tree on my house, so I don’t think it’s necessarily that trustworthy. I’ll take a motor, please. In a pinch, I’ll take the ferry.
2) Camping. Seriously? With family? Do I need to go on? Who does that shit? No running water, no refrigerators, no wi-fi – get me a free hotel upgrade and we’ll start talking vacation. No fun ever came of a woman peeing in the woods. Ever.
3) Beach. To be fair, I don’t mind beaches per se. They are lovely and I have had some wonderful moments on beaches, so I should clarify – sitting on the beach. I have friends who just sit at the beach and do nothing. Then I automatically think Stepford Wives. Seriously, who can do that? Who just sits at the beach all day? Sitting in general is tough for me. Unless I am watching a performance of some kind, I don’t really just sit. I suck at sitting. If sitting were a sport, I wouldn’t have made the Jamaican Bobsled Team, even just the guy in the middle who sits. I’m a mover. I was once referred to as “a fart in a windstorm” which I agreed with whole-heartedly, although, now that I think about it, it really depends on what the wind is doing, as I hear it can be untrustworthy and capricious. Second problem with this messed up “beach” idea is sun. That implies heat and I don’t like to sweat. At all. I hate it. There are times in life when one has to sweat; it can’t be avoided. Doesn’t mean I have to like it. Sun also means, for me, sunburned. (Remember? Pretty, pretty, princess.) Finally, beaches also have this thing called sand. It gets places it shouldn’t, and it isn’t comfortable. At all. This is made even more offensive when one is sweating. Sand blows. Sure, it can scrape off the callouses on my heels, but that means I am walking, not sitting. Oh yeah, just one more beach bitch, beaches often have flies. Beach flies are more than just a nuisance, as they tend to bite, especially if one is sweating. I think I’m making my point. I’ll stop myself now.
Winter is fine, but it lasts at least 6 months up here, so by May, I’m really ready for those 2 weeks of mud. I don’t mind winter, but the length of it can do a girl in. I do like being cozy, and making fires, hopefully in the fireplace, and cooking things with booze. That is kind of a winter thing, isn’t it? Nobody uses rum in a ham glaze in the summer. Nobody pours a little whiskey over their pork loin in the fall. No one puts an entire bottle grain alcohol in mashed potatoes in spring…
My family LOVES winter. A lot. They have been talking about winter since July. Why? They ski. They love to ski. They do it a lot, they talk about it a lot, they smile when they do it a lot. I tried to like skiing, I really did, but it didn’t take. I even took lessons. I own really cool skis and really cool boots, but I bet I go down that tiny hill once this winter, and that will be it. I don’t like to be cold, I don’t like to go fast and I have a fear of heights. When I used to really try to ski, my legs would shake the whole way down the hill, not because I was out of shape, but because I was trembling with fear. So, I gave up trying to be a skier, with Kriner’s blessing. Now, when my family skis, I bring my laptop into the lodge, and pretend to get some writing done, but really, I’m sipping vodka and checking facebook.
That leaves fall as the big winner! Fall! October is the C.E.O. of my yearly calendar of awesome. It is the crowning jewel in my tiara of fun. Autumn is large and in charge, packed to the brim with opportunities for merriment, mischief, glory and abundance.
First weekend in October means one thing around here. Applefest. Some people don’t like Applefest, but you know what I say to that? Maybe Applefest doesn’t like them either. I FREAKING LOVE IT. I love the crowds, the music, the food, the events, the silliness, the parade, the smells…I love it all. I love that friends come and park in my yard. I love that you can carry booze around for that weekend. I love that there is sometimes controversy concerning who is king and queen. I love the apples, the gyros, the corndogs, and the rides. I think you get the picture. Another good thing about that weekend is that it usually falls on Kriner’s birthday. My fabulous husband has his fabulous birthday in early October. You might think Kriner gets a little cheated, as we rarely celebrate it as we should, only due to Applefest, but he’s actually cool with that. He is not a “pay attention to me” kind of guy. If I make his favorite meal, get him some cool work out stuff, he’s usually pretty happy.
There is also a fairly, fabulous reunion of sorts toward the end of the month, lovingly referred to Floyd E. Queeb. It always happens on 10/28 and it changes locations every year.
I won’t share too much of the folklore, as the words of Gandolf are ringing in my head; “Keep it secret, keep it safe.” Suffice it to say, it has happened every year for the past 30 years, and centers around Northland College students and alumni. I have been to my fair share, usually as a musician, and I am always treated with a wealth of outlandish fun. It’s kind of our own little Burning Man, but it lasts only one night. I think Joseph Campbell would absolutely love it, as every year, the myth of it grows and takes on a life of its own.
Then we get into the BEST holiday EVER. Halloween.
Need I say more? What is not to love? We get to dress up, pretend to be something/someone else and eat candy. Puh-leeze.
These events are fun to look forward to, but frankly, I think the month of October can stand on its own even without the social stuff. The foliage alone becomes a glorious quilt that the earth seems to pull up over her chilly shoulders. The reds, oranges, browns and yellows are in such a striking contrast to the almost denim blue of the lake. Lake Superior tends to change colors (albeit subtly) throughout the year, and that autumn blue is something to see. Lighter than the darker, almost black water in winter, and much prettier than the muddy spring melt, the lake in fall seems more clear, more crystal, more full of light. She is in her glory. She won’t let those trees take all her thunder. She can give a show too, after all.
Here’s to falling in love with fall.